Today: Psalms 66:1-12; John 12:37-50; John 13:1-17; 1 Samuel 10:9-27; 1 Samuel 11 & 12

Psalms 66

“For You have put us to the test, God;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into a net;
You laid an oppressive burden upon us.
You made men ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water.
Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.
Psalms 66:10-12

This is a difficult life filled with sickness and struggle. Sure God could easily swoop down, erase all of our pain and shower us with manna and wealth. Sometimes He does just that! But a lot of times He doesn’t. Whichever way God chooses to go, have no doubt, He has a reason and a plan.

God is totally in control, always. No hardship happens that God does not allow. Our struggles “refined us as silver is refined.” I am convinced that we cannot attain good character without difficulties to shape us. Adversity is necessary to make us into who God wants us to be.

Many people don’t want to follow God if it means they will still have troubles. They only want to follow the winning-lottery-ticket-God peddled by snake oil salesmen who parade as prosperity preachers. But in this life, we ALL will have troubles whether we follow God or not. I would much rather walk through this life WITH God’s direction than all by my stupid self. Only God can use our hardships to mold us into something beautiful. Only God can eventually bring us “into a place of abundance.” (v.12)

From "The Ministry of Jesus" painting by Jyoti Sahi

John 13 – Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

We should understand the cultural significance of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Foot washing was the job of the lowest slave. It was a degrading, humbling chore… akin to cleaning someone’s toilet today. That is why Peter told Jesus, “Never shall You wash my feet!”

But Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no place with me.” (v.8)

Not only was Jesus demonstrating that His followers should serve each other, He was also providing a symbol of how He would soon spiritually wash them all with His blood.

John explains that Jesus did this because He knew “that His hour had come that He would depart from this world to the Father.” (v.1) He knew that the devil had already entered Judas and his betrayal was coming quickly. (v.2) Time was short.

Jesus wanted to give the disciples one more sign that would help them understand the reason for His death. He knew they would not comprehend immediately, “What I am doing, you do not realize right now, but you will understand later.” (v.7)

So many things Jesus said and did, He knew the disciples would not readily understand. But He also knew these were the men who would write much of the New Testament. These men would be tasked with explaining Jesus to the rest of the world and all coming generations. (What a huge task!) Much of what Jesus did and said was Him consciously laying a foundation of signs and symbols that the disciples could pull from as they later pieced it all together. He knew the Holy Spirit would be helping them make sense of it all after He had physically left them.

1 Samuel 10

Everything happened to Saul just as Samuel had prophesied down to the smallest detail. And “God changed [Saul’s] heart.” (v.9) What a fantastic start Saul had to his role. If only he could have remained faithful to God throughout his kingship! But God knew what would happen. God had a plan…

God had already told Samuel that Saul was to be king. Samuel had already anointed Saul. Yet the Israelites still went through the process of drawing lots to select their king. God obviously was in control of the lot selection!

God often tells us what is going to happen, BEFORE it happens, so that WHEN it happens, we will know for certain that it was GOD who did it.

Throughout human history, God has usually sent His prophets to declare His intentions before He makes a big move. We don’t need to try to MAKE God’s prophecies happen. God is completely in control. His will WILL be done one way or another.

1 Samuel 11

Saul was hot and cold. He had such a promising start, being filled with God’s spirit and prophesying. But then during the lot drawing, he was timidly hiding in the baggage. Later “the spirit of God rushed upon Saul” again (v.6) and he led the Israelites to an amazing victory over the Ammonites.

There are so many instances of the Holy Spirit at work in the OLD TESTAMENT. God is and always has been intimately connected to us, extending His hand and heart toward us.